What will publishers do when Google lifts the AMP restriction on Top Stories? [Video]

As Google lifts the AMP restriction on its Top Stories section in favor of page experience factors next year, it will also open up the framework’s exclusive benefit to all sites: eligibility for increased visibility and traffic from the Top Stories carousel. Maintaining AMP pages requires resources, and with less incentive to commit those resources, it may just be a matter of time before publishers begin abandoning AMP en masse.

During our AMP session of Live with Search Engine Land, Matt Dorville, SEO manager at BuzzFeed, discussed how this scenario may play out and the factors that will determine if and when publishers begin moving away from AMP.

Testing is key. “I think what’s going to happen is eventually people are just going to test by putting the canonical on their mobile site,” Dorville said, adding, “After that, if they see that there is not a drop in the amount of traffic that they’re getting from Top Stories, then they’re just going to make the shift and just let [AMP] go.”

If traffic does decline while testing non-AMP pages, publishers are likely to continue with AMP, at least until they can improve their mobile site performance. “If you are looking at . . . an AMP site that does very well with all the metrics that are shown, it’s going to be difficult to not just ride that out for a while,” he said.

It’s not always about the Top Stories. There are other benefits to using AMP aside from the visibility and traffic boost from the Top Stories carousel: “If you’re getting a lot more engagement from your users when they’re coming to the site via AMP, and it’s just providing a better benefit for the user, then I would think that you would want to keep it,” said Dorville.

It will also depend on your bandwidth. “If you’re going through a major change like a CMS migration, then you’re going to really weigh the amount of impact that’s going to have with the amount of time you’re going to have to put into moving over AMP with it,” he said.

The availability of staff and resources is a key consideration even when significant site changes aren’t on the horizon: if there isn’t enough internal bandwidth to improve the mobile user experience to a point where it matches the AMP experience, publishers may opt to maintain AMP until those resources open up.

Why we care. Organizations have invested resources into creating AMP versions of their pages for the traffic and mobile experience payoffs. However, once the traffic boost from the Top Stories carousel becomes available without AMP, site owners stand to address both issues in one fell swoop by optimizing their mobile sites. This too may require a resource investment, but once site owners are in a position to dedicate those resources, the cost of maintaining AMP will then outweigh the benefits.

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About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.

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